After making an excellent debut to finish fourth overall in the 1988 French F3 championship, Gounon convincingly took the title a year later in the ORECA Reynard. He then became a stalwart on the F3000 scene from 1990 to 1992, making the best of things when he was in the right team but maybe the wrong chassis (a Ralt in 1991 and a Lola in 1992). Jean-Marc proved he was capable of being blindingly quick when circumstances allowed and his wins at Pau and Vallelunga were just reward for his efforts.
At the end of 1993, at the relatively late age of 30, this amiable Frenchman finally realised his ambition to race a Formula 1 car, buying a ride for the year's last two Grands Prix, having been patiently waiting for another opportunity following the March team's collapse before the start of the season.
Though he had hoped that his two drives for Minardi would lead to a full Grand Prix season in 1994, for he had access to the government fund set up in the wake of the ban on tobacco sponsorship introduced in France, Jean-Marc was forced to bide his time racing a BMW 318 in the French Supertourisme series, finishing a creditable fifth in the points standings. His chance to return to the Grand Prix stage came with Simtek, when he filled the seat tragically vacated by Roland Ratzenberger, and then by Andrea Montermini, who had crashed on his debut in Spain. Never able to do better than qualify on the last row of the grid, Jean-Marc nevertheless plugged away with great enthusiasm, his ninth place on his debut in France actually being the team's best result all year. However, when his sponsorship money eventually ran out, he was replaced by Mimmo Schiattarella.
Gounon has since forged a rewarding career in sports car racing, excellent performances in 1996 with a Ferrari and the following season in a McLaren F1 GTR leading to a seat in the semi-works Persson Motorsport Mercedes CLK. In 1999 he raced a DAMS Lola and, variously paired with Eric Bernard and Christophe Tinseau, scored wins at Donington, Brno, the Nurburgring and Kyalami. (c) 'Who is Who' by Steve Small, 2000